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Teaching Practice on CELTA – what is it?

Updated: Jan 18

Teaching Practice on CELTA – what is it?
You will teach 6 hours worth of lessons on a CELTA course

A lot of people ask this question at some point while applying for a CELTA course. Some trainees think they will be teaching hypothetical lessons to their classmates or tutors. Some trainees think they will learn how to teach English in theory, but not start actual teaching until they have their first job. MA TESOL courses or short TEFL weekend courses operate in that way, but the great thing about the CELTA course (and one of the reasons the qualification is so highly regarded around the word) is that you get real practice teaching English, to actual students who want to improve, while being watched by your tutors and fellow trainees. Whether you decide to do an online CELTA or face-to-face CELTA course, the teaching practice remains the same. You will teach;

  • 6 hours’ worth of observed and assessed lessons.

  • 8 or 9 lessons , between 40-45 minutes each.

  • at least two different levels on the course. One group of students will have a high level of English and the other group will have a lower level of English.

  • different types of lessons, including grammar lessons, vocabulary lessons, reading, writing, speaking and listening lessons.

  • lessons from a text book provided by DC Teacher Training and timetabled for you by your tutors. You do not have to make lessons up by yourself. You will have a lesson planning session with your tutor before teaching each lesson on the course.

CELTA courses are centred around teaching adults. Don’t worry, you (hopefully) won’t have to deal with many tears or tantrums from your students on the course. If you’re teaching on a classroom CELTA course in Birmingham, your students might be refugees, people working in the city who want to improve their English and work opportunities or foreign students studying at one the city’s universities. If you're doing an online CELTA course, you might find that a lot of people joining your lessons live in places where there is very little access to English lessons at all. Remember, all the students want to be in your lessons. No one is forcing them to learn English so it’s likely they will be very motivated and hopefully very nice too!

You’re thrown into the deep end quite quickly on a CELTA course and start teaching from the 2nd or 3rd day on a full-time course or from the 3rd week on a part-time course. It’s important to remember that it’s called teaching practice for a reason. Your tutors are not expecting fantastic lessons from your first attempt. They know that you will be nervous and that you might make mistakes. Try to jump into teaching as much as possible and have fun. Your students know that you are training to be a teacher and they are getting the lessons for free. Yes, they want to learn something new, but they want to have fun with you too! Enjoy it as much as possible, try new classroom techniques out that you have been learning about on the course and use your tutor’s feedback as a learning tool and try not to see it as personal criticism. Teaching practice is assessed continuously throughout the course - there is no final teaching exam at the end that you have to pass. It's fine to have an off-day and if you do fail a lesson at some point during the course, it doesn't mean that you're going to fail the whole course. Lots and lots of people fail a lesson at some point on their CELTA course and that's fine - don't worry too much!

When I did my CELTA, one of my favourite parts was getting to know the students in the practice classes. Teaching Practice gives a real taster of why teaching is such a great job - it's all about meeting new people and helping them and CELTA is great opportunity to do that in a "safe" way, supported by tutors and peers.

Danny Wilkins graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2009 with a degree in English and Drama Studies and went on to get his CELTA qualification in Manchester in 2012.  Since then he has taught English in over 10 countries including Taiwan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Austria, before settling in the UK. Danny has previously managed one of the largest CELTA centres in the UK and is thrilled to bring CELTA courses to Birmingham, having lived and graduated in the city.

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